Tag Archive | "anna freud"

On the Sexual Rights of Youth


Reader Lloyd Bagwell has sent an astute comment in response to an article, called “Sublimation According to Anna Freud," we published earlier:

I want to ask a serious question. Why is modern orgonomy seemingly so incapable of making a social stand against the repression of natural sexuality?

I don’t understand what prevents anyone writing anything specifically for the youth to help them deal with armoring and the sex-negative societies they live in.

Is it technically too difficult; mainly due to a fear of setting the emotional plague off on another one of its rampages against orgonomy; or something else?

One of the goals of the emotional plague in attacking orgonomy was to make any followers scared to death of doing anything that would threaten the armored world, especially any practical social work.

Things have changed for the better since Reich’s day, but its worth mentioning that this progress didn’t just happen on its own ”“ people fought and worked very hard for every bit of it. We can’t just sit back and hope humanity is naturally going to give up its armoring and all will be well; it just doesn’t work like that.

I read in the paper the other day that 49% of parents want to bring back corporal punishment in schools in the UK. The other week there was another one ”“ out of 1700 parents asked 59% said it was wrong for children to learn about sex.

In many ways it looks like were moving backwards!

If I had found The Sexual Rights of Youth as a kid it could have saved me a lot of unnecessary suffering. I already knew that natural sexuality was vitally important and needed to be protected, but I felt completely alone in that view.

Orgonomy could have giving me the much needed back up I needed to stand up for my right to a healthy sex life, and given me the chance to learn about what I just called “The Sickness” (armoring) from a scientific perspective, instead of just having to go completely on gut feeling and common sense.

It’s obvious that the answer to Reich’s question, will children in 100 years be able to live their natural lives as nature ordains it, is a definite no, unfortunately. It’s doubtful they will be able to in another 500 years time.

This comment raises the issue of present day orgonomy organizations and their shortcomings in taking a stand against sexual oppression of youth. We agree with the impression of our concerned reader and think that it would be relevant to draw a parallel between the behavior of present day orgonomy organizations and the behavior of psychoanalytic institutions which were supposed to preserve and promote Freud’s discoveries. In both cases there has been a kind of "defection" from the founding principles of each group. For Freudians, it has happened already, and there is no reason to believe this will not happen with many orgonomists.

In his three-volume "The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud," Ernest Jones quotes a moment with the psychoanalyst: "With a quiet smile, he added, "it seems to be my fate to discover only the obvious: that children have sexual feelings, which every nurse maid knows; and that the night dreams are just as much a wish fulfillment as day dreams." Under much social pressure, even Freud talked less and less about libido and sexual theories. His students and psychoanalytic organizations avoided libido theory to the extent that nowadays, very little if any of it is taught or considered valid.


Front row: Sigmund Freud, G. Stanley Hall, Carl Jung
Back row: Abraham A. Brill, Ernest Jones, Sándor Ferenczi

“Reich Speaks of Freud” contains the interview between Wilhelm Reich and Dr. Eissler, including these comments:

“Freud introduced the energy principle into psychology and in doing so he broke the barriers which separated the science of that day from that of today. [...] Most psychoanalysts were genitally disturbed and that is why they hated it. That’s it. I assure you that I do not say that in order to do damage to anybody."

Elsewhere, the conversation delves more into the topic:

Dr. Reich: Basically Freud discovered the principle of energy functioning of psychic apparatus. The energy functioning principle. This was what distinguished him from all other psychologists. Not so much the discovery of unconscious. The unconscious and the theory of unconscious was to my mind a consequence of principle introduced into psychology. That was the principle, the natural scientific principle of energy, “the libido energy.” You know that today very little is left of it. I consider my bio-energetic work with the emotions to be direct continuation of the energy principle in psychology. [...] I believe Freud definitely knew that he was betrayed in his sexual theory. Libido theory was betrayed, was gone. It is quite evident that there is no libido theory today in psychoanalytic movement. Do you agree with me? Would you agree on that? You don’t have to commit yourself.

Dr. Eissler: I don’t go quite that far.

Dr. Reich: Yes, but you would say that it is.

Dr. Eissler: One hears less and less of it.

Dr. Reich: Less and less — that’s right. Yes, that’s right. I am glad that you gave me as much as that. One hears less and less. It’s more and more of sociology. This would not be bad, do you understand. If it was not a run-away.

and, finally,

Now, how, in heaven’s name are our psychiatrists, who are influenced to such a great extent by psychoanalytic thinking — how, in heaven’s name, I ask, will they ever work to correct the psychic economy in children, in newborns, in adolescents if they leave the [libido] out? I don’t think it will stay that way because I am still around. [...] But I assure you that there is no solution to this world’s problems unless this point is cleared up sociologically, politically, economically, psychologically, structurally, characterlogically, in every single respect. I don’t believe that there will be any solution of any social problem as long as children and adolescence grew up with stasis of biological energy — haywire, irrational, with neurotic symptoms, and so on, and so on.

Reich addresses Freud’s followers’ defection from sexual theory in his book "The Function of the Orgasm," noting in detail:

“Freud feared the inclusion of psychoanalysis in the political arena. His conflict which was very deep made me feel very close to him. Today I also understand the necessity of his resignation. For a decade and a half he had fought for recognition of simple facts. His professional colleagues had slandered him, called him charlatan, and questioned the sincerity of his intentions. Freud was not a social pragmatist “only” a scientist but he was strict and honest scientist. The world could no longer gainsay the fact of unconscious psychic life, so it resorted to its old game of corruption. It sent him many students, who came to a set table and did not have to bother about the cooking. They had but one interest: to popularize psychoanalysis as quickly as possible. They carried their conservative ties to this world into his organization, and Freud’s work could not exist without organization. One after the other they discarded or watered down the libido theory. Freud was well aware of difficulties involved in championing the libido theory. But in the interest of self preservation and the consolidation of the movement, he could not permit himself to say what, in a more honest world, he would certainly have stood up for all alone”.

Regarding to Freud’s resignation, Reich describes it in following paragraphs from "Reich Speaks of Freud":

Dr. Reich: Now to get back to Freud’s despair. As I said there was this first despair after he discovered infantile sexuality. He was moving quite logically in the direction of genitallity problem, where I found myself so much later, about 15 years later [...] In our discussions it was quite clear that he was hampered by the world, which would not want him to get at the genitallity of infants and children and adolescents because that would turn the whole world upside down. Yes, Freud knew that. But he could not get at it socially. The sublimation theory, which he developed as an absolute, was a consequence of that. It was an evasion. He had to. He was tragically caught. You know with whom? With the many students, many pupils, many followers. And what did they do? They took what he had and got the money out of it. I am sorry to have to state it. I stated it publically before. They hampered Freud. He was hampered so that he could not develop further. [...] Now if my theory is correct, if my view of cancer is correct, you just give up, you resign-and then you shrink. It is quite understandable why he developed his cancer. He smoked very much, very much. I always had the feeling he smoked — not nervousness, not nervousness — but because he wanted to say something which never came out of his lips. Do you get the point?

Dr. Eissler: Yes.

Dr. Reich: As if he had “to bite something down.” Now I don’t know whether you are on my line. Bite-the biting down impulse, swallowing something down, never to express it. He was always very polite, bitingly polite sometimes. Do you know what I mean? “Bitingly” somehow coldly, but not crewly. And it was here he developed that cancer. If you bite with a muscle for years and years the tissue begins to deteriorate and then cancer develops. Now that cannot be found in psychoanalytic theory, that comes right out of my work, out of orgonomy.

There is no reason to believe that the human race, which carries 6000 years of patriarchal and anti-sexual culture, will relinquish it quickly in 70 years since Freud. There is also no reason to believe that Reich’s students may behave differently than Freud’s own, just one generation earlier. However, Reich also made many hopeful statements which should be remembered by his students, and should be followed, by insisting on what is right even in a less honest world, even all alone. After all, Reich also wrote, in "The Function of the Orgasm":

“The scientist is duty-bound to insist on the right of free speech under all conditions, this right must not be left to those whose intent is to suppress life. We hear so much about the duty of soldier to be willing to sacrifice his life for his country, we hear too little about the duty of scientist to expose a truth once it has been recognized cost what it may. The physician or the teacher has but one responsibility namely to practice his profession unflinchingly, irrespective of the powers which suppress life and to have in mind solely the welfare of those entrusted to him”.

We believe that Reich’s advice has already influenced, and will continue to influence new generation of students to promote orgonomy, as envisioned by him.

Posted in HistoryComments (3)

Sublimation According to Anna Freud


One part of Reich Speaks of Freud is a transcript of an interview between Dr. Wilhelm Reich and Dr. Kurt Robert Eissler. Dr Reich says:

Will our children, in a hundred years, when they are five or six years old, be able to live their natural lives as nature or God ordains it? Or will they sublimate according to Anna Freud?

In psychology, sublimation is defined as the process of modifying an instinctual impulse in such a way as to conform to the demand of society. Sublimation is a substitute activity which gives some measure of gratification to the impulse; the impulse has been repudiated in its original form.  In other words, sublimation is a form of desexualization  in which the instinctive impulse is in some way deflected into socially acceptable channels, instead of requiring control by constant counterforce. The aim or object of the underlying drive is changed without blocking an adequate discharge.
With sublimation, contrary to the mechanism of repression, it is assumed that the impulse or the wish is modified in such a way that gratification can be achieved without disapproval or disapprobation. In sublimation, the ego is not acting in opposition of the instinctual force or Id; on the contrary, it helps the Id gain external expression by modifying and changing its form to conform the social structure.
Since its inception psychoanalytic psychology in praxis has advocated sublimation as the answer to the sexual demands nascent to childhood and adolescence.  The majority of child psychiatry and child psychology, along with most psychoanalytic books and literature, typically all respond to  children and adolescent sexual demand in the same way: Most all texts refer to the process of sublimation, and in turn advocate for adolescents and children to desexualize their impulses and express this demand in a socially acceptable manner.
In her well-received book Normality and Pathology in Childhood: Assessments of Development Anna Freud writes about a child’s developmental capacity for sublimation as the initial process for developing the capacity to do the actual work later on.
Sigmund Freud with his daughter Anna Freud.
In contrast to psychoanalytic psychology, a field that claims sublimation of the sexual drive is effective in an adequate discharge of libido energy in desexualized and socially acceptable channels, those of us who work in the field of orgonomy (but also those who keep in contact with his or her inner feelings) recognize that sublimation is only rarely capable of providing adequate discharge for sexual energy. This energy is incessantly produced from the core of the organism; if mishandled either by repression or another kind of deflection, a child will end up simply feeling like he or she will explode.
The child or adolescent has to find a way to conform his biological needs to cultural and social demands. Orgonomy, in contrast to psychoanalytic psychology that accepted the social and cultural norms and demands, suggests that the social and cultural institutions should adjust themselves and conform to the needs of children and adolescents. Not the other way around. Orgonomy posits that people who are sexually content and happy are most productive and behave and act in accordance to  natural moral codes that are self regulated. In general, the process of productive work is far higher among people who are sexually happy and satisfied in contrast to those who have to struggle to repress their sexual demands.
Work and Sexuality: The following is a diagram of reactive and sex-economic way of working from The Function of the Orgasm by Wilhelm Reich.
Dr. Reich had discovered the process of psychological and physical armoring. This develops as a natural consequence of a young person’s struggle with repressing their natural and instinctual primary drives. This has a devastating effect on their structure. Once the process of armoring begins, all types of psychological and physical illness ensues.
Recognizing the general misery of youth, Dr. Reich published a booklet for this audience called The Sexual Struggle of Youth, in 1932. The booklet’s introduction states:
The following pages were written for young people without any upper or lower age limit. My purpose in setting down these remarks is not to provide the usual kind of ‘sex education’ which avoids the question of adolescent sexual intercourse; instead it is my intention, based on well founded scientific conviction, to give young people a definite answer to the serious question that they have about their maturing sexuality.
He goes on to write:
Many a young person approaching puberty must develop a moralistic, defensive attitude against the unconscious urges of his sexuality, as well as against any knowledge from outside, simply in order to give himself an artificial prop to cling to. He is unaware of the relationship between his sexuality and the daydreams that torture him, his moodiness, his states of excitation, and other plights; he acts and thinks under the compulsive authority of a foreign will that forbids him to obtain sexual knowledge. This foreign will stems from education and has become a part of his own character, which now acts contrary to his natural bodily needs.
“Young people are contaminated on the one hand by moralizers and advocates of abstinence and, on the other hand by pornographic literature,” Dr. Reich continues. “Both influences are extremely dangerous, the former no less than the latter.” In recognizing this, he writes, “The sexual misery of modern youth is immeasurable, but most of it is out of sight, beneath the surface.”
In his book The Function of the Orgasm, Reich writes the following:
Viewed socially, Freud’s discovery of child sexuality and sexual repression was the first dim awareness of the sexual renunciation which had been going on for thousands of years. This awakening consciousness still appeared in a highly academic garb and had little faith in its own movements. The question of human sexuality had to be shifted from the dark corners of the social framework, where for thousands of years it had been leading a filthy, distorted and festering life, to the very front of the shiny edifice grandiosely called “culture” and “civilization.” Sexual murder, criminal abortions, the sexual agony of adolescents, the killing of all vital impulses in children, perversions en masse, pornography and the vice squad that goes with it, exploitation of the human longing for love by a cheap and prurient consumer industry and commercial advertising, millions of illnesses of a psychic and somatic nature, loneliness and psychic deformity everywhere, and—on top of this—the neurotic politicizing of the would-be saviors of mankind could hardly be looked upon as showpieces of civilization.
In the same book, Dr. Reich sites the work of anthropologist Bronislaw Kasper Malinowski. In his 1929 book The Sexual Life of Savage, Malinowski described his observation in the primitive tribes. For example, in the Trobriander primitive tribe who live in an archipelago of coral-based atolls off Eastern New Guinea, the sexual life of the children developed naturally, free and without interference throughout all stages of life, with full sexual gratification,  Malinowski found them to be ignorant of sexual perversions, functional mental illnesses, psychoneurosis or sexual murders. They had no word for theft; the strict, compulsory neurotic toilet training was unknown to the Trobriander child, hence the Trobriander is spontaneously clean, orderly, naturally social, intelligent and industrious. Another observation was that the Trobrainder people took part in non-compulsive, voluntary monogamous marriage that could be dissolved at any time without difficulties. This kind of marriage was the observed, prevalent social form of sexual life; there was no observed promiscuity.
1918 Bronislaw Malinowski with Trobriand Islanders
A few miles from the Trobriand Islands, on the Amphlett Islands, there lived a tribe having a patriarchal, authoritarian family arrangement. All the characteristics of the European neurotics (distrust, anxiety, neuroses, suicides, perversion, etc.) were already evident in the natives of this island.
Upon noting this, Dr. Reich asks “To what extent does a population enjoy natural sexuality? It is the pivotal question of mental hygiene.”
The sexual life of a European or American in his or her early twenties, for example, is currently far advanced than in the early 1900’s or even prior to WWII, when Dr. Reich was struggling to establish his theories. At that time sexual relations outside of marriage were expressly and implicitly prohibited for young men and women, regardless of the notion of “legal age.” Virginity was strictly imposed as a standard for women, which now seems foolish and disgustingly inhuman in western societies. The changes that have occurred in relation to sexuality reflect the gradual progression of social trends. Dr. Reich predicted and advocated for these same ideas since the 1920s:
The question is: Will our children in a hundred years, when they are five or six years old, be able to live their natural lives as nature or God ordains it? Or will they sublimate according to Anna Freud? [...] If I can help it, the first will be the case [...] Sublimated work or good cultural achivement is possible only after the basic needs are satisfied.
Nevertheless, and despite advances, sexual needs of adolescents and children remain repressed to the widest degrees, though there have been some timid movements to establish their rights in western societies.
We in orgonomy believe that the prediction of Dr. Reich will come true. It is something which is reflected by historical changes that we see now, and in fact, it must come true if there is any hope for a world free of human psychopathology, and all other ills that stem from it.

Posted in SociologyComments (7)


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